Faculty and Staff Guidance on Preferred Names

What does using a student's preferred name mean for you?  Some common questions are listed here.  Please feel welcome to contact the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) if you need more information or if you have a situation you'd like to discuss.  

Why are students now given the option of using a preferred name?

For many students, the ability to use a preferred name is essential to feeling welcome and included at UB.  There are many reasons why students might want to use a preferred name.  Some students have used a different name than the one assigned at birth for many years, and find the use of their legal name uncomfortable and out of place.  Others may have adopted a new name more recently.  Some examples include the following:

  • A student may have a gender identity different than that assigned at birth, and may want to use a name that reflects their gender identity.
  • International students may find that faculty, staff and other students have trouble pronouncing their birth names, and may want to adopt a name that is easier for others to use.
  • Some students have gone by their middle names instead of their first names and would like this to be the name that appears on their class rosters.
  • A student may find a nickname to suit them better - for example, "Bob" instead of "Robert," "Beth" instead of "Elizabeth."

Who is allowed to use a preferred name?

Any UB student can now enter a preferred name in HUB.  The change will be reflected in class rosters, UBLearns, and the HUB Student Services offices – meaning that the student's professors, advisors and other UB staff will see the name a student chooses to use, instead of the student's legal name.  There are some areas where a legal name must still appear, including on bills, medical records, transcripts, tax forms, diplomas, and financial aid records.

Faculty and staff data is maintained in the SUNY HR system, which does not yet have a preferred name field.  EDI can work with faculty and staff to enable the use of a preferred name wherever we can make changes at the campus level, including in directories and UBIT names.

Why don't students change their names legally instead of using preferred names?

Obtaining a legal name change can take time, and can also be expensive.  There also may be legal or personal reasons why someone cannot change their name legally, or why they do not wish to do so.  For international students, obtaining a legal name change may not be possible or even preferable.  It is important to understand that many transgender students may be "out" at school, but may not feel that they can disclose to their families that they are transgender.  Finally, a student who goes by a middle name or nickname may have personal reasons, such as family tradition, for wanting to keep their name legally while being known by their middle name or nickname.

What happens if I need to check a student's ID for test security and the name on the class roster is different?

Students will be able to enter preferred first and middle names, but their last names will remain the same.  A student's eight-digit person number also appears on their UB ID card and can be used to verify identity, along with the student's photograph. 

What prevents a student from entering a silly or obscene name into HUB?

The Student Code of Conduct prohibits individuals from using lewd, indecent or discriminatory names.  Students who change their name in violation of university policies and/or the Student Code of Conduct will be notified via their UB email address and the name(s) will be removed.  Students who repeat this violation will be referred to Student Conduct and Advocacy.

The Office of the Registrar reviews preferred names at the time they are submitted.  If you are aware of a preferred name that may violate UB policy and may have been overlooked, you may contact the Office of the Registrar at (716) 645-5698 or at UBReg@buffalo.edu.  

How does a preferred name affect things like financial aid forms, transcripts and diplomas?

Students' legal names will continue to appear in areas including bills, transcripts, financial aid forms, diplomas, medical records, and other areas where a legal name is required by law.  Preferred names will only appear in areas where a legal name is not required, including UB Learns, class rosters, and HUB.

Am I required to use a student's preferred name?

Yes.  If you are aware that a student uses a preferred name, you are required to address the student by that name.  It is a professional expectation that UB employees will address students in a manner that is welcoming to them.  Using a student's preferred name signals respect and welcomeness.

Can employees also use a preferred name?

Currently, SUNY and UB HR systems do not have the capability of incorporating employee preferred names.  If you require the use of a preferred name as a transgender accommodation, you can contact EDI for assistance with using a preferred name in UB directories and changing your UBIT name.